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10 Secret Uses for Your Car Key Fob

How much thought do you pay to your car key fob? This piece of plastic may be little, but can help you do more than just unlocking your car.

Person at car using remote control key, close-upWestend61/Getty Images

What is a key fob, anyway?

A key fob is a small remote device that allows you to control a keyless system. With a key fob, you don’t need an actual key to get into your car. The key fob uses radio frequencies to communicate with your car and control it. The jingling of keys becomes a sound of the past if you have this handy device (you shouldn’t attach any other keys to your ignition key, anyways.)

Turns out, there’s a lot you can do with this convenient piece of technology. Here are some secret uses for your car key fob that you may not have known before—try them out for yourself!

Car key with remote control blackTeen00000/Getty Images

Start your car remotely with your key fob

In some cars, your car key fob can remote start your vehicle during chilly days, depending on whether or not idling is legal in your state. Just look for the remote engine start button often labeled with a circular arrow, Consumer Reports says.

A car with the drivers window Half way downIPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

Use your fob to lower your windows

Did you know you can also use your key fob to catch a breeze? HuffPost reports the key fob for many cars now can roll down all windows at once. Try pressing your unlock button twice, holding down the second time until all windows are open. Speaking of car windows—have you ever wondered why they have those black dots on them?

Car mirrors folded in with car fobadmin_design/Shutterstock

Fold in your mirrors with your key fob

If you’ve maneuvered your car into a tight parking space, your key fob can help make sure your side-view mirrors don’t get knocked off when someone else is squeezing by. For cars that don’t do this automatically when they lock, try holding the key fob lock button for ten seconds. Consumer Reports says this feature tends to be available on newer Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks. Here are some other weird car features you may not have known you have.

Empty open trunk of the cardelihayat/Getty Images

Unlock your trunk with your fob

In older cars, you may have had to use a mechanical key to get back in the trunk, but now many newer models have key fobs that allow you to open your back hatch with just the click of a button. Nervous about locking your keys in your car? Here’s how to unlock a car door without your keys (just in case).

Engine start/stop switchMarin Tomas/Getty Images

Start your car with your key fob

Keyless ignition systems are becoming more common, with 62 percent of cars sold last year having this feature, Edmunds reports. Should you choose to go keyless on your next model, your fob can serve as a way to start or stop your car as long as the fob is in the car with you and your foot is on the brake. Just make sure to never leave your key fob in your car (but you can leave these items in there).

Car fob remote with panic button visibleZikG/Shutterstock

Use your fob to stay safe at night

The key fob of almost every car has a “panic” button which will set off your emergency alert systems, helping you find your vehicle in the most crowded parking garage. But if the garage is deserted, setting off this feature can also help ward off would-be criminals, says RepairPal. Here are some new car safety features no vehicle should be without.

Car thief trying to break into a carDaniel Jedzura/Shutterstock

Prevent home break-ins with your key fob

The attention-grabbing blare of your car’s alarm system can also prevent home break-ins. If your key fob works on your car from within your home, keep it by your nightstand, says RepairPal. If you hear something in the night, hitting the panic button can scare off criminals and is one of several things you can do to save your home from a break-in.

Car key fob unlocking the carSawat Banyenngam/Shutterstock

Use the fob to unlock your car

OK, this one may seem obvious… unless you have a keyless car and a fob with a dead battery. As keyless ignitions become more popular, fewer and fewer cars operate with traditional mechanical keys. The problem here? The fob that unlocks the car by sending computer signals to the vehicle can run out of batteries. Luckily, Toyota says the fobs for its keyless cars also have a mechanical key tucked in them should this be the case. Good to know, especially if you need to get something you shouldn’t have left in your car.

Detail of new modern car interior, Focus on seat adjust switchiMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Adjust your seat with your fob

Sharing your car with a gentle giant or someone whose legs just don’t have the same reach as yours? GMC offers some models that allow you to set a “memory” of where you like your seat. Each key fob is assigned a different number, so when you get in the car, it knows who’s driving. From there, you can set your seat preference and go. By the way, bookmark these car maintenance tips that will extend the life of your vehicle—they’re so helpful!

Full tight parking lot from abovenonnie192/Getty Images

Use the fob to park in tight spaces

Never again worry about scraping another vehicle. The car key fob for Teslas can be used to park your car in tight spaces, says Business Insider. The driver doesn’t even need to be inside. The “summon” feature will stop when obstacles are detected and even close your garage door for you. How’s that for a car accessory that’ll change the way you drive?

Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: “Your Car’s Key Fob May Have Hidden Features”
  • HuffPost: “Hidden Key Fob Trick Allows Users To Roll Down Car Windows”
  • Edmunds: “What You Need to Know About Keyless Ignition Systems”
  • RepairPal: “What Happens When I Press The Panic Button On My Car Keys?
  • Toyota: “How do I operate the Smart Key locking and unlocking functions in my vehicle?”
  • GMC: “How to: Program and Use Memory Seat Functions”
  • Business Insider: “Tesla’s new driverless parking feature works in real life — and it’s scary accurate”

Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.

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